Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - September 8, 2013

Hello again, my wonderful family and friends!

First order of business today: just a heads up. Next week (Sept 17) is our temple day, so P-day will be on Tuesday, instead of Monday. The next week (Sept 24) is transfer week, so P-day will be on Tuesday then as well. Then it will return to Monday for the 30th.

Next order of business: I just need to say--the Church is true. Every day reconfirms it to me, but this week seems to be especially persuasive. I don't even really know where to start. I guess I will start with our day yesterday/this weekend.
We talked a lot about the Book of Mormon with our investigators. There are a few with whom we just finished talking about the Restoration, and how important the Book of Mormon is as a witness of the truthfulness of it. Last night, we read the Introduction to the Book of Mormon with two of our investigators, and they asked what it meant by the "keystone of our religion." So I drew a super (not) impressive picture of an arch and explained how the supporting blocks (things like Joseph Smith being a true prophet, the restoration of the Priesthood being real, the concept of continuing revelation) all depend on the central block in the arch, the Book of Mormon. If that fails, the arch (the truthfulness of this Gospel) falls. But if the Book of Mormon holds true, if it really is the Word of God, and was brought forth by the Power of God, then everything else is true too.
So again, this Church is true. I know it 100% because every morning as I read the Book of Mormon, and throughout the day as I testify of it, I feel the convincing witness of the Spirit confirm to me that it is true. I feel the power and Light of the Lord in my life. I am taught CONSTANTLY about God's love for me and His Plan for me, and for all of His children. And I know that there is so much more that I don't know yet! That really is the moral of the story, I feel like. This Gospel is the only source in the whole world from which we can gain more light and knowledge than any other source, because it is not bound by restrictions of mortality. It exists in an Eternal realm. I am so grateful that we have been given access to additional knowledge, and additional understanding, that helps us live our lives more in accordance with the Lord's will, or as the scriptures call it "the manner of happiness."

Also, we had Stake Conference yesterday. It was completely wonderful. One of the things that actually struck me the most, though, was the choir. They sang "Consider the Lilies," which is a beautiful song in itself. As I listened to it, though, and watched these beautiful Filipino people sing "consider the sweet, tender children, who must suffer on this earth," it hit me more powerfully than ever how that song must mean so much more to these Saints than it does to me. Every day, these people witness literal suffering of children, without proper shelter, clothing, nutrition, love, etc. Some of them may even have experienced it themselves. It is so humbling to witness the faith of these members, who cling so intimately to the Atonement of their Savior Jesus Christ, and who know so sincerely that He does know and understand them, even though no one else really can.
Last week, Sister Campbell and I stopped to visit an old Nanay (in her 70s) and her son (50) who live near one of our recent converts. They literally are just skin and bones. They used to get a little bit of rice from their church to sustain them, but for whatever reason, that ended and they were without food. All they had had in the past two days when we saw them was coffee. As we sat in their "living room", I watched as the son held tenderly in his hands the two pesos (about the worth of a nickel) that was the only money they had, and which he had only been able to acquire through begging. My life of luxury has never been so evident to me. Even here on the mission, we don't have much, but we pretty much live in luxury compared to most of those around us. I keep saying it, but it's true: I have no idea why I am so blessed, other than maybe because the Lord knows that I will want to help others.

On a more positive note though (sorry if that was depressing), we got to do a real service project this week! We helped a family in our branch move! (All my training growing up is paying off!) It was a lot of fun, but we are sad to see them leave. They were two of the six RMs in our branch, and we are now in need of a new YW president and ward clerk. They are an incredible family, though, and I'm excited for the ward they are moving into--they are lucky for sure!

Tagalog is coming along well. I'll tell more stories about that next week. A few more adventures/pictures before I end:

So...despite the fact that I may lose respect from some of you, I will confess that I ate balut (sp?) last week. Elder Argyle got it for a "father-daughter bonding experience". He's decided he is going to be the one to introduce all of his "children" to it (the foreigners, at least, since the natives grew up with it already). Sister Faka'osi was supposed to join us, but she really dislikes strange food, especially when she knows what it is, so didn't actually partake with us. It was a strangely okay experience. The taste itself was pretty much what I had been warned about--not great, but not that bad. Not something you would choose to eat just because, but not the worst you could gain bragging rights from.

On a more appetizing note, though, it turns out we have a papaya tree in our yard!! Papaya, I have decided, is one of the coolest of the Lord's vegetative creations: when it first grows, it is a vegetable! Then, after it ripens, it TURNS INTO A FRUIT. I'm not sure why that is so fascinating to me, but it is. As a vegetable, you can cook it and it kind of it like a potato (as an accessory to a meal). It's actually pretty delicious. Here you can see what it looks like in its veggie state, and when it starts to turn toward fruit.

Also, there is an LA family in our area that we have been working with. The parents work all day (leave in the morning and come home really late at night) and the 4 young girls are left to themselves all day (at home aside from the time they are in school). We've been trying to help encourage them to read their scriptures and pray, especially together as sisters, so last week we brought supplies and made bookmarks together! We used some of the old teaching pamphlets, and Sister Campbell had some more scrapbook-type craft stuff. These are the two that I made. I love them. :)
(The Tagalog one says: "how will I follow", "what is my purpose", "what is the gospel", "why should I", "how will I know", and "blessings")

I love you all! I hope you have a great week!!

Sister Franks

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